TRANSNATIONALISM AND BEARY IDENTITY IN DAKSHINA KANNADA, INDIA
The research project is a sociological study of the Beary Muslim community of Dakshina Kannada District, Karnataka, focusing its migration, transnational links, and reverse flows of resources, and community identity formation. An intensifying pattern of labour migration as well as transnational business connections have created dense transnational connections and flows linking the Beary community to the Gulf. In addition to household remittances, an important element of the ‘reverse flows’ from migrants to Dakshina Kannada is support for community welfare and social development projects. These donations and welfare activities appear to be feeding into ongoing processes of community identity formation in the region. The research examines how the Beary community is using its transnational ties and greater access to resources stemming from migration to establish a more favourable position in the home region. Migrant-sponsored social welfare activities seek to enhance educational levels, livelihood standards, and women’s welfare within the Beary community, as well as to assert a distinctive cultural and linguistic Beary identity. The research project seeks to understand why and how transnational networks are being formed, what kinds of resources are being transmitted to the Beary community through these networks from members living abroad, what are the implications of these transnational resources for building a strong and distinct Beary community, and how these transformations are altering inter-community relations in the region.The project includes ten months of fieldwork in Mangalore town and the surrounding region and two months in the UAE and adjacent Gulf states.
PROVINCIAL DIASPORA, PHILANTHROPY AND THE EMERGENCE OF A TRANSNATIONAL CLASS-CASTE IN COASTAL ANDHRA PRADESH, INDIA
Guntur District historically has been an agriculturally rich region, and its headquarters Guntur town, a major trading hub, and much of the economic activity in the region has been dominated by the major landowning caste, the Kammas. Guntur is also known as a major centre for education and health care, and its many medical and engineering colleges have produced a large group of high skilled professionals, many of whom are Kammas. Kammas have become highly transnationalised due the migration of professionals to the West, starting in the 1970s. This affluent regional diasporic group, located mainly in North America, is deeply engaged in social development oriented philanthropic projects, especially in the education, health and rural development sectors, in their home region. A transnational caste-class within the still predominantly agrarian Kamma caste has emerged through these cross-border connections and flows, including diaspora philanthropy in which both material and immaterial resources are circulating within a transnational social field. The project focuses on the ways in which caste connections and regional specificities shape the philanthropic activities of Non-Resident Telugus, and on how these practices in turn are shaping this transnationalised caste-class. The field research includes ten months in Guntur town and the surrounding region and two months with diasporic groups from the region in the U.S.
INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT AMONG CHAROTAR SUNNI VOHRAS IN CENTRAL GUJARAT, INDIA
It is often said that Charotar, the fertile strip of land between Ahmedabad and Baroda in Central Gujarat, became wealthy through tobacco and migration. Migration from the region has traditionally been associated with the locally dominant Patel caste, which started to migrate to British colonies more than 100 years ago. In recent years, however, middle class youngsters of minority communities (including Christians and Muslims) from this region are also increasingly going abroad. This project studies the significance of migration among Muslims of Anand town and surrounding villages in Central Gujarat, mapping the movement of people in relation to their social position in the region. In particular, it studies the mobilities and positioning of Vahoras, a regionally dominant social group within the minority Muslim community. The Vahoras have older links to Bombay and Karachi and more recently have started to send their youth to the USA, UK and Australia to study and to work. How have these movements been experienced, and how do these mobility patterns connect with individual and collective strategies of upward social mobility? The project includes ten months of fieldwork in Anand town and the surrounding region, and two months in London.